An institution of the Cowichan Valley, Mt. Tzouhalem is a very popular attraction for mountain bikers and hikers in the area. With views of the Valley and most notably Cowichan Bay and the Cowichan Estuary, a visit to the Tzou is always beautiful. Personally, I have hiked and biked the mountain countless times, as has my girlfriend, Danielle, and her family. What we haven't done before, however, is camp on the mountain.
Although I believe camping on Tzouhalem may be prohibited, Danielle and I, along with her parents, Dirk and Shera, decided to do just that one day in late July. Hiking up one afternoon after stocking up on groceries, we found a spot on the east end of the ridge -- far from the high-trafficked areas -- and set up our tents overlooking Cowichan Bay. After setting up and enjoying a delicious picnic dinner of wine, meat, cheese, crackers, olives, and various spreads, we chilled out for the rest of the night watching the sun set over the estuary and playing cards in Dirk and Shera's large tent.
That night the temperature dropped surprisingly low, and the wind picked up. This made for somewhat challenging conditions considering our tents were set up on shallow moss atop bedrock and there was no possibility of pegging the tents. Luckily there was a number of large, loose rocks around which allowed us to weigh down our tents and stave off the wind.
The next morning we made a quick breakfast of oatmeal, packed our bags, and headed back down the hill. Overall, the trip was actually really great. The views from the mountain were so pretty, especially the sun setting over the Cowichan Estuary. Although my associates and I always follow these practices, it should be especially noted in this instance of camping in a non-designated campground, that we made sure to follow Tread Lightly principles. That is, leave-no-trace activities. If you'd like to learn more about Tread Lightly practices, please click here.
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